Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tim Redmond: "Trust me..."

It's as if Tim Redmond was trying this week to provide evidence for my recent post on how clueless city progs have been on the homeless issue:

Back in 2003, the race was the progressives against downtown; Tom Ammiano, Matt Gonzalez, and Angela Alioto were competing for the progressive vote, and Newsom was downtown's darling, running on a platform of taking welfare money away from homeless people. The Newsom-Gonzalez runoff was about as clear and stark a choice over political vision as the city could ask for.

Little over a week ago I wrote:

It's telling that [Steve]Jones makes only a fleeting reference to the homeless issue in his long piece, since that is the issue that got Newsom elected mayor. Nor does he mention Care Not Cash, the successful measure Newsom put on the ballot in 2002. The city's progressives---including, of course, the Bay Guardian---so completely botched the homeless issue they rarely even mention it anymore, which is understandable, since homelessness is the only important city issue on which Newsom has had some real success. Better to shut up about it than remind everyone of your failure on the issue.

City progressives botched the homeless issue by operating under the apparent assumption that the homeless were just poor people who couldn't afford housing in San Francisco. After all we live under a wicked capitalist system, so we might as well get used to homelessness. 

Thus, the "right" of the homeless to live on our streets and in our parks had to be defended against a heartless Newsom, whose Care Not Cash measure in 2002 was passed by city voters clearly fed up with the growing squalor on city streets and in city parks. (for those who weren't around then, see the BeyondChron story that refers to a David Binder January, 2004, poll showing that 61% of city voters thought homelessness was the main issue facing the city. The second issue of great concern to city voters, the schools, polled only 21%.)

A year later, in a campaign during which homelessness was the main issue, Newsom was elected mayor over uber-prog Matt Gonzalez, who blathered about how Care Not Cash doesn't address the "root causes" of homelessness. 

As it turned out, Care Not Cash was a good beginning in dealing with homelessness, since it ended the self-defeating policy of handing out lump sums to the homeless, in effect helping them remain homeless. Unlike Gavin Newsom, City progs were oblivious to the reality that city voters wanted something done about homelessness.

Angela Alioto, one of Newsom's opponents in 2003, understood how important homelessness was to city voters, and she later joined Newsom by chairing the Ten Year Planning Council, which in 2004 issued a realistic assessment of homelessness in the city, which city progs still consider an act of betrayal by Alioto!

Here's a link for the Controller's report on Care Not Cash.

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At 2:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Homelessness" in San Francisco is largely a euphemism used to describe those who would have once been called hobos or bums, namely those who choose their responsibility-free lives, and wouldn't chose to have a home even if you handed them the money to afford one.

I do not mean to imply that there are no homeless in SF who have simply been forced onto the street by circumstance and poverty; there are undoubtedly some. But (as the SF Civil Grand Jury found a couple of years ago) the majority of "homeless" are there by choice, perhaps partly as a result of drug use or addictions (which they want to continue to pursue, thus they eschew attempts to get them into housing where there might be "rules") or, in some cases, mental illness (sometimes as a result of long-term substance abuse.)

Throwing money at housing doesn't solve the problem when most of them don't want to be housed. They want to live lives free of any responsibility, personal or otherwise, like leeches on the world around them.

I'm beginning to believe that a strong "tough love" approach is the only possible solution. Coddling them and giving them money just encourages them to keep doing what they are doing.

At 4:42 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You're at least half-right. The homeless are often people with drug and alcohol problems, while some others have crippling psychological problems. Many of them have in fact been helped off the street by the Newsom administration, but they continue their addictions by panhandling downtown, which is what the Grand Jury report you cite found. And they keep on coming, since the city is a destination not only for high-end tourists but also people with serious problems, who assume that good old "progressive" SF will give them a handout and/or a hand. My favorite program---the most successful and cost-effective---is Homeward Bound, which gives homeless people a bus ticket back to where they came from or where there's someone on the other end to meet them. Average cost to bus a homeless person outtahere: $149.

At 4:51 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

But we agree that the progressive class analysis of homelessness is ridiculous and, even if it was true, city voters insisted that something be done about it. Gavin Newsom understood that way back in 2002, when he got Care Not Cash on the ballot. City progressives like Redmond are still in denial about what happened seven years ago: their do-nothing, faux-Marxist analysis was rejected by city voters, and subsequent events and information have shown that it was completely false.


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